Moroccan tomato settlers protest their way back to Sahara
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Settlers from Morocco cultivate lucrative quantities of tomatoes and melons at the King of Morocco's plantation in Dakhla, occupied Western Sahara. Faced with incessant job-cuts, these workers are currently staging a protest in Casablanca. Nipping further protests in the bud, the authorities have promised them their jobs back.

Published 06 November 2011

At the Moroccan King's plantation in Dakhla, occupied Western Sahara, vast quantities of tomatoes and melons are cultivated by Moroccan settlers. Faced with incessant job-cuts, these workers are currently staging a protest in Casablanca.

At a few dozens of kilometres from Dakhla lies the Royal Domain of Tiniguir, the King of Morocco’s plantation in the land he illegally occupies. Created in 1989 at the instruction of the late king Hassan II, Tiniguir was the pilot project for agriculture in the region. From the get-go, it employed Moroccan workers, excluding the local Saharawi population. To attract workforce from Morocco proper, small houses were erected on the Domain’s grounds. 

Since August 2010, small groups of labourers have been continuously let-off and evicted from their homes on Tiniguir. A solidarity protest on the plantation resulted in another 40 people being dismissed. Since then, the workers have united themselves in a trade union, which has started a sit-in in front of the General Administration for Agricultural Properties in Casablanca on 3 November. The wali from Dakhla has promised them their jobs back if they immediately end their protest and report for duty at the wilaya. 

Attempting to diminish the region’s dependency on fisheries, Tiniguir was launched as a pilot project in 1989 at the instruction of the late king Hassan II. Its success has drawn numerous investors to the Dakhla region, which today harbours around a dozen plantations.

The Royal Domain of Tiniguir spans at least 600 hectares. The cultivation of tomatoes and melons in greenhouses assures high yields – respectively 250 tonnes per hectare and 60 tonnes per hectare. In addition, cucumbers, bananas and pineapples are farmed.

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